If you've been reading these pages, you've heard me ranting on about MLX 249, the proposed amendment to give the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) a broad new range of powers over herbs and vitamins.
Under this new regulation, which the MCA is now seeking to put into effect this summer, the agency would have the right to decide itself, with no consultation or right of appeal, whether a vitamin, a herbal product or an oil is medicinal in nature and so in need of a very costly licence.
Although this proposed legislation was born in Europe as part of a proposed EC directive to regulate dietary supplements, MLX 249 is clearly the most draconian legislation of any EU countries.
The MCA has been quick to deny that this legislation would not clear the shelves of most supplements. "I want to reassure you that the proposals would not change the status of products which are correctly classified now as food supplements," wrote the Inspection and Enforcement Division of the Borderline Unit of the MCA (the portion of the agency that deals with "borderline" substances like vitamins) to one of the several individuals who have publicly protested this move on April 29.
The big question of course is what do they mean by "correctly classified"? As the Vibrant Health Centre wrote in a press release, "The wording assumes that products currenty classified as food supplements are correctly classified. This is classic spin!"
There is no doubt that this proposal will affect not only herbal products, but also cosmetics and toiletries which contain vitamins, herbal extracts or aromatherapy oils even, conceivably, herbs for cooking.
It's a virtual certainty that the adoption of MLX 249 will virtually demolish the health supplement and natural medicines industry overnight and put many alternative practitioners out of business. Most worryingly, it is giving the MCA the power to be, in effect, a law unto itself answerable to no one for its decisions, allowed to presume guilt before innocence is proved.
Most sobering of all, it railroads all of us into one method of health care modern medicine, with its checkered and unproven track record. As has been noted by protesters of this move, last year, 20,000 deaths occurred as a direct result of people taking medicines licensed by the MCA. The equivalent figure for food supplements is zero.
Up until now, the government has been steamrolling forward with the threat of passing this into law in spring. We now have a reprieve. It has just been announced that MLX 249 cannot get passed before the summer recess.
That delay has given us time to organise a backlash. A grass roots organisation supported by members of the alternative medicine community, health enthusiasts, and various health food manufacturers and suppliers is organising A Freedom to Choose March on June 20, at 11:45 am from Hyde Park (Cumberland Gate) to Trafalgar Square. To get the press coverage that has so far eluded this issue, the March must be massive. The organisers which include Consumers for Health Choice, the Health Food Manufacturers Association and the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine recommend that you take three friends with you, and have them invite three friends of their own. They are expecting a crowd of at least 15,000 people. There is growing support for this initiative among many important companies, MPs and health authorities.
Be there or realise that you will need these pages more than ever, only form of health care available to you will be dispensed by the NHS.